Further rise forecast as car dealers enjoy 2013

Sales of new cars north of the Border are likely to continue rising in 2014 after dealers enjoyed their best year since the onset of the credit crisis.

The Vauxhall Corsa topped the Scottish sales table. Picture: Contributed
The Vauxhall Corsa topped the Scottish sales table. Picture: Contributed

Industry leaders forecast a steady year-on-year increase in sales as it was revealed yesterday that new car registrations in the 12 months to 31 December had passed the 200,000 mark for the first time since 2007.

The launch of more fuel- efficient models and the growing popularity of finance schemes such as personal contract purchase (PCP) plans have been credited for the 12.6 per cent year-on-year hike in sales.

Douglas Robertson, chief executive of the Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA), said: “It has been an extremely-encouraging year for the industry in Scotland and, whilst we don’t anticipate a similar increase in 2014, we do expect to see new car registrations of around 207,500 in the year as the market stabilises.”

The year-end figures show that there were 204,592 registration in 2013, against 181,785 the year before, though the latest total remains shy of an all-time high of 215,000 set in 2004. December sales totalled 10,430 units, up 12.2 per cent on the same month in 2012.

Robertson added: “As the credit squeeze eases, we believe SMTA dealers will continue to offer excellent deals for consumers and, with more and more concentration on fuel efficiency amongst new car manufacturers, we would anticipate consumers seeing a continuing reduction in the cost of running a new car.”

Across the UK, a total of 2,264,737 new cars were registered in 2013 – a 10.8 per cent rise on the 2012 figure and, as with Scotland, the best annual total since the pre-recession year of 2007. The 2013 total was boosted by a 23.8 per cent jump to nearly 153,000 vehicles in December, marking the 22nd successive month of increases.

The super-mini sector – encompassing best-selling models such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo – was the largest last year, accounting for nearly 36 per cent of all sales in the UK.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, which compiles the sales data, said: “With its best year since a pre-recession 2007, the UK new car market has helped stimulate the country’s economic recovery. While the European market is only now showing signs of improvement, the UK has consistently outperformed the rest of Europe with 22 consecutive months of growth.

“The increase in 2013 reflects the attractive financial offers available, as well as increased demand for more technologically advanced new cars.”

PCP is a variation on a hire purchase agreement, but the key difference is that the value of the car at the end of the contract is calculated at the start of the agreement and this value is deferred.

This method of purchasing is said to be ideal for people who want lower monthly repayments and prefer to change cars on a regular basis.

Andrea Kinnear of the Finance and Leasing Association said: “PCP is getting more and more popular.”